Modern day barter

barter : (verb) To trade goods or services without the exchange of money

I remember first learning about barter trade in my social anthropology classes at university. When I think of the word barter, vivid images appear in my head of men in the Pacific Ocean taking flimsy-looking canoes to go on expeditions for months at a time, where they would trade beautiful seashells with tribes from other islands.

I recall that the rubbing and handling of the shells would give the outside of the shell a dark patina, increasing the shell’s value the more they were held and exchanged. I loved the idea of trading without money and the notion that the same object was increasingly getting more valuable as it was swapped from hand to hand.

As it turns out, barter trade doesn’t have to be such a far away concept. Yesterday, Eline came over to purchase some of my worms to start her own compost, after contacting me on Marktplaats (the Dutch eBay).

As we were talking, Eline explained that she is just back from Belgium where she learned to bake artisanal bread and she asked if it would be ok to pay half the price in cash and swap the other half for a loaf of bread.

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I have to admit I was a little taken aback and I hesitated on accepting because I wasn’t expecting it at all. She explained that her bread is made with local stone-ground flour and French sea salt. But it was when Eline took the bread out of its paper bag to show me, that I was sold (I was bartered?!). As you can see on the pictures, the loaf was beautifully round and full, and had the most mouth-watering rich bready smell.

I’m so glad I accepted her offer, as we’ve been enjoying thick slices of this delicious sourdough bread with butter and jam all weekend.

Eline explained that she only bakes bread once a week at the moment because she is still looking for a place to set up her activity in Amsterdam. I hope she does so soon, so I can pick up some of this tasty bread regularly. I think I could get used to it:)

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Update:
Eline’s delicious artisanal bread is now sold on Saturdays at Vinnie’s Deli (Haarlemmerstraat 46 HS, 1013 ES Amsterdam), or you can pick it up directly from her home near Westerpark (contact her at elineex@gmail.com for more details).

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